MARQUETTE, Mich. - The Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team is looking to make big strides to reverse last year’s 11-16 overall record and 6-16 mark in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). NMU returns the majority of the key people from last year’s team, including Raymont McElroy, Marc Renelique and Chris Warner.
NMU’s leading scorer and rebounder from last year are back. A couple of transfers could add into the mix to help the Wildcats get over the top and back into post-season play.
The team must find replacements for Kyle Greene and his 4.7 rpg and Tyler Kazmierkoski and his 10.1 ppg. Eric Sirrine is also not returning to the team. “Having five experienced seniors will help us in many ways including leadership and knowledge of our system and the challenges of the GLIAC,” said Dean Ellis, now entering his 24th season at NMU. “We also return our top three scorers, who all averaged in double-figures, from last year’s team.”
Warner who was a member of the GLIAC North Division All-Defensive Team last year, is back. Warner led the ‘Cats with 140 rebounds (5.2 rpg), 43 steals and averaged 10.4 ppg.
McElroy, last year’s GLIAC Freshman of the Year returns. McElroy led the team in assists (83) and was second in steals with 29. He also averaged 13.0 ppg.
Renelique led the team in scoring and is look to do so again. Renelique averaged 14.2 ppg and made 79 three-pointers. He added speed to the line-up and could hit the shot from downtown.
Other returners include Austin Rowe and Jordan Mitchell. Rowe averaged a little over six points an outing last year (6.2 ppg). Mitchell saw time in three games last year.
Redshirt freshman Alex Sanbino-Ifill along with transfers Martin Gross and Devin Scott could fill some of the holes in the backcourt. Freshman Chris Paquin can score if given the green light.
“Our guards will be very good with McElroy, Warner, Renelique and Rowe returning,” said Ellis.
Returning along the baseline are Sebastien Salois and Mark D’Agostino. Salois was a key person off the bench for the ‘Cats last year. He saw time in 27 games and was 15-34 in three-point shots, and also played a key role on the defensive end. D’Agostino saw action in 13 games last year.
Sophomores Jared Benson and Eric Hawley should have the inside track. Newcomer Mylan Murphy could push the two veterans. Benson averaged 4.0 ppg and pulled down 2.7 rpg. He did have 15 blocks last year. Hawley saw time in 12 games and contributed a little over two points a game (2.3 ppg) and 1.3 rpg.
“The emergence of inside players Benson, D’Agostino, Hawley and incoming recruit Murphy will go a long way in determining the success of our season,” said Ellis. “All four have the size, strength and ability to be impact players for us.”
NMU will begin the season by facing the University of Michigan and UW-Green Bay. There will be a stretch in November into December where the ‘Cats will play five straight home games.
For the ‘Cats to challenge for a spot in the GLIAC Tournament they must leap over teams such as Ferris State, Grand Valley State, Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech in the GLIAC North Division.
From the GLIAC South the ‘Cats will face Findlay the defending NCAA Division II national champions twice during the season. Hillsdale will also be a tough opponent from the GLIAC South.
“Both the GLIAC South and North races seem to be wide open as there were a number of key players that completed their careers last season,” said Ellis. “As always every game will be a major test and we are looking forward to be in contention for a title.”
The Wildcats need to find a way to get points and rebounds from some of the youngsters on the team. For the ‘Cats to be successful people are going to have to step up and take control of the team. The new people will have to mesh quickly with the returners for the ‘Cats to achieve their goal of climbing in the conference standings.
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Sports Information Director